by Jared Benjamin
What starts out in the scenery of a mysterious creature rising from the ashes of a car crash turns into a mystery that engulfs a small town. Melissa R. Mendelson’s Lizardian, harkens to the storytelling efforts of literary iconoclasts such as Stephen King’s Itor a Televised Series such as Twin Peaksand brings their influence into another realm. Throughout the work there is an interconnected narrative with a diverse coalition of antagonists and protagonists. There’s the headstrong, intelligent High School Senior, Laurel who carries with her a dark-brooding secret; the clean-cut home-bred lawman, Sheriff Thomas Boyd; fellow officer and Long Island transplant, Jim Greer, and the villainous entity of the title with the same name. All of whom help paint the portrait of disruption throughout the story.
Melissa’s supernatural epic makes great use of space in the length between main street normalcy and the bridge into where the story takes its turn. It isn’t until the middle of the seventh chapter where we see the creature’s re-emergence. However, it shows the level of problems that still exist in the realm of small town Americana; without the visage of gore, without the vision of a Netherworldly creature. Issues like a young high schooler going through a lawsuit for saving a young boy’s life, or officers who take pride in their work, only to see it sullied by deputies like Mark Johnson, or the dispute between a man with a checkered past struggling to gain the custody rights to see his own daughter on her birthday. These all seem like small issues on a more universal level, but who are we to say what qualifies a level of concern according to someone else? Lizardian answers such a question, and says yes things can get worse, way, way worse.
This incarnate has a wrath much different than any creature I’ve read about. As in, their wrath, their impact is a slow churn rather than an all out kill. As this reptilian creature ravages through the town, clogging up police phone lines, enclosing people to their homes like nomads to caves amid an ice age; its impact is made in a silent whimper rather than loud bang. But even more intriguing is the fact the creature’s emergence in the town of Crowley, isn’t just out of the sake of vicinity. It’s because of a deeply-bottled secret, one that attracts the creature to this small town courtesy of Laurel. In this moment, her secret evokes the Lizardian and all his rampage potential as countless life after countless life is taken from it.
In contrast to my mention of the somewhat parallel to Stephen King’s IT; as fear fed the monstrous entity in that novel, the spirit of deceit seems to empower the entity in Lizardian. A deceit so encompassing that it’s the fuel that keeps this supernatural beast on his blood-craven path. A driving force that keeps this walking abyss from swallowing this town in collective consumption. Mendelson’s Lizardian is a hauntingly powerful work of suspense, with an unraveling slipstream that doesn’t just unwind from it’s stitching, but tears and rips itself apart, until it reveals thinnest line of thread wrapped around a massive lie. Lizardian demonstrates the build, the conflict and the climax that makes a tale of terror seep into the consciousness of its readers.